Tag Archives: Pentatonix

Introducing “The Sing-Off” Season 5 Competitors

Despite being pretty disappointed that Season 5 of The Sing-Off is a single, 2-hour special, we are super excited for the groups that made it in!

For those of you who don’t know, The Sing-Off is a reality show competition for a cappella singing groups. Probably its most famous winners to-date are Pentatonix from Season 3 in 2011, but last year’s Season 4 winners Home Free seem to be holding their own with their a cappella and country fans. Whatever gets a cappella out to the masses, it’s all good to us.

With the format change comes a change in the judging line-up (Twitter links included).  Shawn Stockman and Jewel return, but our favorite, nerdtastic  Ben Folds, will be replaced with Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump.

As always, we are happy to share our compilation of group information and contacts so you can get to know the groups in advance.

The Sing-Off Season 5 Competitors

If you don’t want to individually follow all the Twitter accounts, you can just subscribe to our AcaSingOff Season 5 Twitter list that does it for you.

Please keep in mind that errors in this post are entirely our own doing, and we are more than happy to make corrections, changes, or additions if you notify us!

And with that, here we go (in alphabetical order)….

A cappella + electronic music? We’re totally in! This will be new for strictly Sing-Off fans, so keep an open mind for looping and effects, still all made with only the human voice.

Members: Nimal Eames-Scott, Paul Homes (Bass), Jacob Reske, DJ Stanfill, Jackson Thea
Twitter: @thisisAsquared
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thisisasquared
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/thisisasquared
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thisisasquared

Watch them do their stuff live here:

Seems like there is always one group on The Sing-Off with alums from a previous season, and this one is it.  You’ll recognize Jamal and Aaron from the University of Rochester Yellowjackets (Season 3) and Richard from Urban Method (Season 3), plus Chris worked as a TSO vocal producer, and Fredo recorded studio tracks for TSO theme music.

Members: Alfredo AustinChristopher Diaz (Bass), Jamal Moore, Aaron Sperber, Richard Steighner (VP)
Website: www.exchangevocal.com
Twitter: @exchangevocal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/exchangevocal
YouTube: www.youtube.com/exchangevocal
Instagram: www.instagram.com/exchangevocal

The Exchange have a couple of albums, bunches of  videos, and they tour extensively, often overseas, with a very loyal following. Here is the video for their original song “Kerosene,” which really shows off their individual personalities.

3. MELODORES (Vanderbilt University)
All-male, collegiate a cappella – it wasn’t a matter of if, but who. And this year we’re not disappointed because we already stalk follow the Melodores.

Members:  Jonathan Amaro-Barron, Hollis Cuffie, Cameron David, Austin Lyons, Jamal Marcelin, James McHugh, Dan McNeil, Ted Moock, Augie Phillips, Nikhil Ramaprasad, Justin Riele, William Woodard 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vanderbiltmelodores
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/VanderbiltMelodores
Instagram: www.instagram.com/vanderbiltmelodores

And here are the Melodores with “Talk Dirty” (opb Jason Derulo):

In case it wasn’t obvious, these folks hail from the great San Francisco (“The City,” as they say).

Members: Cherilyn Acorda, Danny Cavero, Del Lazaro (Bass), Jaron Liclican, Kevin Redrico, Jess Walsh
Twitter: @sf6official
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sanfran6
YouTube: www.youtube.com/sanfran6

Newly posted vocal trailer right here:

We are personally just meeting the women of Timothy’s Gift, but what a meaningful mission they have – bringing #HOPE to prisons.

Members:  Brianne Angarole, Emily Angarole, Melissa Greene (Hope Curator and Leader of TG), Abby Lane Hinton, Anna Register, Lauren Wedertz
Website: http://www.timothysgift.com/
Twitter: @timothysgift
Facebook: www.facebook.com/timothysgift

For a video that explains the Timothy’s Gift Hope Tour, click here.

Having seen these ladies perform live prior to the taping of this special, we say WHOA the LADYBASS. Full sound with a delicious gospel  vibe, this is good stuff.

Members:  Keesha Gumbs, Tamika Gumbs, Gbianka Kotee, Selame Scarlett, Cindy Valerus
Website: www.traces5.com
Twitter: @traces5
Facebook: www.facebook.com/traces5

Just go ahead and go straight to download their single “Mas Que Nada” on iTunes or Loudr right now. Here they are singing it live at Sing Strong Chicago 2013 (h/t our own Tara Marie Ahn for the video):

And there you have it. This season’s six competing groups.

Now that you’ve met the players, who will YOU be cheering for this season? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter or our Facebook page.

Remember, the hashtag is #SingOff with no “the” in front. Get it trending when The Sing-Off: Season 5 airs on Wednesday, December 17 on NBC.




AcaDirt: #SingOff Episode 3 (The Proposal)

By Jeremy Michael Lewis, acoUstiKat

Half the groups, but twice the tears!

Before I get started, I’d like to congratulate all four-and-a-half million of you who were able to figure out the answer to the the burning question:

“Wait, when is The Sing-Off on again?”

In an attempt to answer numerous questions regarding why the format was changed for episodes 3 and 4, I did a little mind reading and came up with the following:

  1. It makes the competition a little stiffer. Think about it: half of the groups on the episode had to battle, which makes for good entertainment.
  2. Two-hour episodes are long… This is ‘Murica, ain’t nobody got time for that three nights a week.
  3. Mark Burnett said so.

To the music:

If you didn’t notice, the show opened with the first ballad of the season, Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”  I had never heard it to be perfectly honest, and I still can’t stand the original to this day, so kudos to us for making that bearable.

I personally remember this as the first time that we as performers came together as an individual ensemble, not just different groups singing on stage together.  Now I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy doing the whole flock of different soloists from each group stepping out to show just how many riffs can embellish a melody!  I just needed a little vanilla in my life. (Albeit,  we still riffed a bit too.)

The theme for the episode was ingeniously labeled #1 Hits.  Now, I’m not saying I don’t like singing popular songs, but I try and stray from the most popular songs of all time when I select music.  Why you ask?  Because chances are, if it was a #1 song on the charts, it’s hard to make it any better than it was in the first place.

Take our pals Pentatonix for instance. The majority of songs they choose to cover are close to being on “top of the chart” but not quite there. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m pretty sure most of their YouTube videos hit a million views before they finish fully uploading, so it’s safe to say they’re doing something right.

I’ll give you an extremely brief description on my personal feelings of each group’s number, and then we’ll move on to things I actually have real concrete information about.

TEN:  You’re insane, I don’t know how you do it, just keep doing it.

Street Corner Renaissance:  You have more class and swagger than I knew was possible. The ‘Kats learned a ton from you and Cee-Lo could even take some notes.

Filharmonic:  VJ is still perfect.

All right, our turn:

Last seen, we were up for a cappella execution, and none of us really wanted to go back to college on time, so we figured we might start putting in a little extra effort this time around. This episode was obviously approached a little differently by the ‘Kats. We went back to our roots and decided to show what we do best: choral music.

For the ladies who are in love with Ross Hill’s voice, he’s had the same girlfriend for about half his life, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up.  However, window-shopping is still legal in Kentucky, so don’t be completely discouraged.

For those of you who might have gone to the bathroom or fell sleep or didn’t watch the episode completely, you might not have noticed that part about Mike getting down on one knee in front of America.

As precious and emotional as that particular moment was, there was some serious planning that had to go into that very special moment and a lot of back story you might not have caught, so here goes my personal recapitulation.

Mike Owens wanted to ask his girlfriend, Maggie Blair (or Margaret Augusta Blair because that’s how a gentleman says it) to marry him for months prior to this moment. When he found out we had made the show however, he got the idea that maybe he should wait for just the right moment.

Side note:  Maggie and Mike met while she was in charge of the female a cappella group at UK Paws and Listen.  (Yeah, I know, we’re really good with the puns in Kentucky.)

When the group decided we were going ahead with “Amazed,” the first ballad/love song an individual group had performed this season, Mike brought up the idea to the group, and I don’t think I have to tell you just how excited to we were to have a bachelor party help out!

But here’s the thing: this is television.  You don’t just get to insert proposals because it’s a cute idea.  Mike didn’t officially have clearance to pop the question until two days before the recording.  I haven’t crossed the “I’m going to ask my girlfriend to marry me” bridge in my life yet, but I’m assuming it’s not exactly a casual decision.  And moreover, I’m sure the “this may or may not even happen” thing didn’t help.

Not to mention the following obstacles:

  1. He didn’t have the ring in L.A.
  2. He didn’t have any actual confirmation she could even make it to L.A. for the show.
  3. The ‘Kats fumbled through 5 completely different arrangements and almost had to change the song because fitting a ballad into a minute and 40 seconds, is not easy.

That being said, we figured it out. (You’re welcome, big fella.)

So while normal rehearsal days were in full force, I went with Mike to the nearest Tiffany & Co. in Santa Monica (yes, Mike is actually perfect), where he bought the ring he had already picked out months before.


I’d love to say the sole reason I went with him was to support him in one of the biggest moments of his life, but honestly, I was really sick of rehearsing, needed a haircut, and hadn’t been to the beach yet… so I killed a few birds with this stone. (See what I did there?)

Santa Monica
Mike and I at Santa Monica Beach

Fast forward:

Mike approached me in one of the rehearsals before the performance and asked me if I wouldn’t mind learning the bass line for the last section, just in case he got caught up in the moment and couldn’t sing the last few notes. (Crying and singing bass is actually impossible — try it sometime.)

The day of performance we could all tell he was nervous, and if you know Mike at all… you would be nervous for him, too.  Fully grown red-headed basses aren’t exactly known for an abundance of swagger.

However, right after we finished our warm-up routine of running around acting like complete idiots backstage, he came up to me and looked me dead in the eye and said, “Hey man, don’t worry about singing my part at the end.  I’ve got this.”  And he was right.

As far as I’m concerned the song and proposal were emotionally beautiful, and there
isn’t a single thing I would change.

Since the entire show is prerecorded, and we couldn’t talk about any details, Mike and Maggie have since been hiding the engagement from all of their friends until the episode aired.  So, you can imagine, Thursday was quite the surprise for many people.

If you haven’t already found your way to iTunes to buy the music from the show, please do so now! Needless to say, after Sony, NBC, publishers and iTunes take their cut and hand us the last 24 cents or so to split 12 ways, we’re all well on our way to paying off that college debt.  Seriously though… we appreciate the support, and we wouldn’t be here without you all, so thanks for buying.

As always, it’s a pleasure to let you all in what goes on behind every performance. I’ll be sitting in the box on Monday, but I promise you DO NOT want to miss this throw down.

Love Y’all

– Jeremy

Check out my other blogs in this series:
AcaDirt: The Truth (or at least my version) of How “The Sing-Off” Works
AcaDirt: #SingOff Episode 1
AcaDirt: #SingOff Episode 2

Connect with “The Sing-Off” Competitors for Season 4

Is everyone as excited as we are about the upcoming Season 4 of The Sing-Off or what?! For those of you who don’t know, The Sing-Off is a reality show competition for a cappella singing groups, and it’s kind of been in limbo since Pentatonix won Season 3 in 2011.  But this December, it’s BAAACCKK!

If you’re not excited enough yet, take a look at this photo of The Sing-Off Season 4 judges with Season 3 winners, Pentatonix (Twitter links included): (L to R) Shawn Stockman, Mitch Grassi, Jewel, Avi Kaplan, Ben Folds, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, Nick Lachey, and Scott Hoying.

The Sing-Off Season 4 judges with Season 3 winners, Pentatonix: (L to R): Shawn Stockman, Mitch Grassi, Jewel, Avi Kaplan, Ben Folds, Kirstie Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, Nick Lachey, and Scott Hoying

Now that NBC has officially made their announcement (whew!), we are happy to share our compilation of group information and contacts so you can get to know the groups in advance.

If you don’t want to individually follow all the Twitter accounts, you can just subscribe to our AcaSingOff Twitter list that does it for you.

Please keep in mind that errors in this post are entirely our own doing, and we are more than happy to make corrections, changes, or additions if you notify us!

And with that, here we go (in alphabetical order)….

12 members. All-male collegiate a cappella. Southern charm. What more needs to be said?

Members: Jordan Lindsey, Nick Johnson, Evan Pulliam, Jeremy Lewis, Ron Wilbur, Ross Hill, Peter Gibbons, Charlie McManus, Banks Mattingly, Patrick Banks, Mason Stewart, Mike Owens (bass)
Website: www.acoustikats.com
Twitter: @acoUstiKats
Facebook: www.facebook.com/acoustikats
YouTube: UK acoUstiKats on YouTube
Instagram: www.instagram.com/acoustikats

If you don’t have an #acoUstiKrush after watching The acoUstiKats singing “Wake Me Up,” then we don’t know what —

For your Krushing pleasure (L to R): front row: Ross, Nick, Banks, Mike; back row: Charlie, Ron, Evan, Jordan, Peter, Mason, Jeremy, Patrick

Six Latin singers from San Juan, Puerto Rico: two gentlemen and four ladies. Word is the ladies can also dance!

Members: Craig Cacciola, Windy Diaz, Melanie Dieppa, Amaris Flores, Abi Hernandez, Vanessa Marco
Twitter: @salle_solpr
Facebook: www.facebook.com/callesolsos4

Check out the Calle Sol Facebook page to see some recently posted videos, like this one.

A college-educated group of musically trained, professional women who like to perform a cappella around NYC as a hobby.

Members: Emily Borromeo, Emily Goglia, Manjula Raman, Liz Asti, Kate Schwarz, Katelyn Miles, Caitlyn Pollock, Carly Kincannon, Jo Vinson (Bass), Rachel Chalhoub (VP)
Twitter: @ElementVocals
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Elementvocals

We totally swiped this photo off the Element Facebook page (with permission) —


Filipino “Vocal Boy Band” based in Los Angeles.

Members: Joe Ilagan, Julian Cruz (bass), Niko Del Rey (VP), Barry Fortgang, Trace Gaynor, VJ Rosales
Twitter: @TheFilharmonic
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFilharmonic
YouTube: www.youtube.com/TheFilharmonic
Instagram: www.instagram.com/TheFilharmonic

Check out The Filharmonic performing a preview of Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl” —

Another Ivy League tradition, the Footnotes tout themselves as the providers of “fresh, all-male a cappella” to Princeton University since 1959.

Members (*EDITED* to specific Sing-Off line-up):
First Tenors: Clayton Greenberg, Ryan Fauber
Second Tenors: Casey Kolb, Josh Lavine, Adam Hyndman
Third Tenors: Jonathan Schwartz, Brian Bernard
Baritones: Will Plunkett, Jacob Schatz, Samson Schatz (VP)
Basses: Ben Barron, Daniel Gastfriend, Nathan Quinn
Website: www.princetonfootnotes.com
Twitter: @PtnFootnotes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/footnotes
YouTube: www.youtube.com/princetonfootnotes

Enjoy the Princeton Footnotes performing Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” —

Home Free was formed in 2000 by brothers Chris and Adam Rupp. Billed as the world’s first country a cappella group, Home Free also comes to The Sing-Off as the only full-time, professional group in the competition.

Members: Austin Brown (power-tenor), Rob Lundquist (tenor), Chris Rupp (baritone), Tim Foust (super-bass), Adam Rupp (VP)
Website: www.homefreevocalband.com
Twitter: @homefreeguys
Facebook: www.facebook.com/homefreevocalband
YouTube: www.youtube.com/homefreevocalband
Instagram: www.instagram.com/homefreevocalband

(*Edited*) Since Home Free‘s Sing-Off audition has gone private, here’s their latest video instead:

A doo-wop quintet with a repertoire of classic songs we all know the words to.

Members: Kwame Alexander, Charles (Sonny) Banks, Maurice Kitchen, Torre Brannon Reese, Anthony (Tony) Snead
Website: http://www.streetcornerrenaissance.com
Twitter: @stcornerdoowop
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/streetcornerrenaissance
YouTube: www.youtube.com/StreetcornerDooWop1

The Street Corner Renaissance EPK is kind of fun to use to get to know them better —

8.  TEN
10 professional singers in the music business from Dallas who got together for the show.  Why the name Ten (besides the obvious)?  According to the group, “The number 10 means completion and perfection of God’s divine order.”  Having seen them perform, we say: “Awesome gospel vibe.”

Members: Deonis Cook, Peaches West, DeeDee Yancey-Mackey, John Jontez Montes, Teaira Dunn, Elgin Johnson, Sydnii Raymore, Lenisa Raymore, Emoni, Victor Evans
(Editor’s note: Candy West and Dante Davis have since replaced Emoni and Victor)
Website: www.officiallyten.net and www.officiallyten.com
Twitter: @OfficiallyTen


We’ve been fans of Vocal Rush pretty much since they started in 2011. Based out of the Oakland School for the Arts (California), these high school students (!) have been the ICHSA (International Championship of High School A Cappella) champs the past two years they’ve been in existence. Go buy their debut EP, The Beginning, and do it now.

Members: Sydney Jacobs Allen, Kyana Fanene (VP), Isaac Herron, Jordan Holly, De’Zhanice Kirtdoll, Eivind Limon, McKenna Lindell-Wright, Jada Banks Mace, Kiana Parker, Carmina Pulliam, Emma Stumpf, Sarah Vela
Twitter: @OsaVocalRush
Facebook: www.facebook.com/osavocalrush
YouTube: www.youtube.com/osavocalrush

Here’s Vocal Rush‘s ICHSA Finals 2013 set —

“Original. Imaginative. Ridiculous. Origimagidiculous.” Why rewrite when their decription is so… descriptive? The group is based in Orlando, FL.

Members: Earl Elkins, Jr., Layne Stein, Eli Jacobson, Tony Wakim, Geoff Castellucci, Honey Larochelle
Website: www.thevoiceplay.com
Twitter: @thevoiceplay
Facebook: www.facebook.com/VoicePlay
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/theVOICEPLAYdotcom
Instagram: www.instagram.com/voiceplay

And here’s Voice Play featuring Honey Larochelle with “Get Lucky” opb Daft Punk and Pharrell —

And there you have it. This season’s ten competing groups.

Now that you’ve met the players, who will YOU be cheering for this season? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter or our Facebook page.

The Sing-Off: Season 4 premieres Monday, December 9 on NBC.



How SNC Lead Me to PTX

A cappella love begets more a cappella love.

I know it’s hard to believe, but a new season of The Sing-Off will be starting soon. The competing groups will begin to arrive in Southern California tomorrow, and the first show will be filmed in front of a live audience on August 5! This got me thinking about last season’s winners, Pentatonix, and the opportunity I got to see and meet them back in April…

Dottie and Pentatonix
It was a great honor to meet Scott, Avi, Kirstie, Mitch and Kevin before the show! I loved how laid back and friendly they were, putting me at ease immediately.

The rainy spring evening in April was reminiscent of a bygone rainy fall evening in October, where I had first seen a cappella kings Straight No Chaser perform in 2010. This time, the marquee of the Kalamazoo State Theatre heralded a different a cappella group: NBC’s The Sing-Off Season 3 champions, Pentatonix.

I was struck by the fact that it was because of that first rainy evening in October that I became more aware of a cappella, leading me to watch The Sing-Off, and ultimately back to this venue to see Pentatonix, or PTX (as they are known to their fans).

As an employee of the theatre, I was blessed with the opportunity to arrive early for the general admission show and save seats for my friends in the balcony. As I looked around, I immediately saw a distinct difference in the seating arrangement for this show vs. the Straight No Chaser concert. The first seven or so rows of folding chairs had been removed, creating a large space for the excited fans to dance as well as get closer to the performers. One “Pentaholic” showed true dedication as she quickly made her way to the edge of the stage on crutches. I knew she must have been standing in line for hours outside to have the opportunity to be so close to her favorite band.

The concert began with a mash-up of “Save the World/Don’t You Worry Child” which had the crowd screaming. After an excited greeting of the crowd, PTX segued seamlessly into Macklemore and Lewis’s “Thrift Shop,” with impressive rapping by Scott, Mitch, and Kirstie, held together by their anchor, Avi on the hook and vocal percussion by Kevin that no one could sit still for. The lighting and choreography polished off this modern song so smoothly, it was easy to forget you were at an a cappella concert.

Next, the group covered the early 80’s hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” with bass vocal percussion that you could feel in your seat. Again, this song was coupled with stellar lighting, which really set the mood for the song, and I could feel the excitement of the crowd around me growing.

Often in bands, the soloists naturally end up getting most of the audiences’ love and admiration. However, PTX’s soloists, Scott, Mitch, and Kirstie took ample time to highlight their bass, Avi, and vocal percussionist Kevin. They lovingly referred to them as “meat & potatoes,” and gave these two members special moments to shine. The first of these moments was when Avi demonstrated to the audience how he could “sing two notes at one time” (also called overtone singing or harmonic singing), which impressed us all a great deal.

My favorite part of the concert came next when Kevin brought out his cello and performed “Julie-O” for the audience. The juxtaposition of the smooth, velvety cello and the street-smart sound of his vocal percussion had me holding my breath. The rest of the group joined Kevin for their spin on Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” to round out the “non-a cappella” portion of the concert.

But the treats did not stop there! Avi again showed off his powerful bass voice by performing The Song of the Dwarves from The Hobbit which again had me and the rest of the audience holding our collective breaths, followed by uproarious approval upon his completion.

A PTX original, “The Baddest Girl,” came next in the set, which the members indicated was written by the group’s founder, Scott. The lyrics expressed the desire to be with a girl despite having been warned of her reputation for breaking hearts. It fit among the popular cover songs perfectly with a smooth ballad start and a pleasing jump into an R&B sound that reminded me of a Boyz II Men song.

Following this, Scott, Kirstie, and Mitch left the stage, while Kevin and Avi stayed behind, informing the audience that their participation was needed for the next song. Then, using a great amount of humor, the two split the crowd into a trio, each with a vocal part that would have belonged to one of the three soloists that had left the stage. After the audience had their parts down, Avi and Kevin added their vocal parts so that we had the opportunity to sing along. Then, one by one, they had each vocal part drop out until they were left with just one. This kind of involvement with the audience was obviously loved.

Next, PTX covered Rihanna’s “You Da One” which was followed by choosing a lucky Pentaholic to join them on stage – affectionately referred to by their fans as “Chair Girl” – and serenading her with “Let’s Get It On,” which she hammed it up for nicely.

Good stage chemistry was exhibited among the members of the group throughout the show, as they joked with each other and the audience, engaging us at every opportunity. It was easy to feel as if these singers were your friends; as if they had been waiting eagerly to see you and make sure you enjoyed the music and had a great time. The concert was well rounded out with by a great mix of popular song covers, and tight, smooth harmonies accompanied by dynamic lighting were consistent throughout the show.

To conclude the show, the group performed “Starships” followed by a double encore, leaving a very breathless and satisfied audience. This is one group I will definitely enjoy seeing again and will have no trouble recommending to my non-a cappella friends. It was easy to see how they drew a younger crowd with their fresh take on some of the most pop songs and all the energy they poured into their performance.

Have you seen Pentatonix live, or do you have tickets to an upcoming show? We’d love to hear about your own experience. Let us know in the comments.


OREO Wonderfilled A Cappella Goodness

Happy 100th Birthday, OREO! 

We acafans are pretty happy about the Wonderfilled song featuring Owl City and the a cappella campaign that included some of our favorite groups around the country.  For those of you fans who missed it, we’ve compiled some videos for you.

Here’s the original animated version:

Here’s the big campaign (NYC version):

As if that weren’t cute enough, here are three of our fave aca-artists with their own renditions.

Blue Jupiter


Peter Hollens

Did any of you experience or sing in an OREO Wonderfilled acabomb during the campaign in mid-May? Tell us about it, or share your own video links in the comments! -CM